Parks Department agrees to let artist put noose back on sculpture in Riverside Park

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Art is sometimes used to push our boundaries in pursuit of getting our attention and question our beliefs and actions.

One artist is doing that with a new sculpture at Riverside Park in Manhattan. Soon the sculpture will undergo another change, one that some say is far too controversial.

The sculpture stands there now -- a sculpted, iron figure that says almost nothing.

"From the initial concept, I've had a noose," said Aaron Bell, the artist.

This is what, "Stand Tall, Stand Loud" is supposed to look like. It was designed by artist Aaron Bell with a noose on top, a silent, poignant protest against hate.

"In essence, the piece stands for humanity against hate. Hate against race, hate against every ethnic group, hate against religion," Bell said.

The Parks Department liked Bell's sculpture, but thought the noose was a bit much for the children and families walking through the park.

So they commissioned the piece without the noose, and at one point even suggested Bell use a heart shaped noose.

"This is not a hate or love thing, this is a clear denouncement against hate, period. You're talking about some heart, this is not a kumbaya moment," Bell said.

Bell speaks softly. When he was in his 20s, he was beaten up by a group of young, white men and it cost him a vocal cord. They could quiet his voice a bit, but they couldn't silence him. The Parks Department, as it turns out, couldn't either.

"Yesterday at 2:00 at the arsenal, we went and met. And in 10 minutes time, I got a public apology, they realized that they were wrong," Bell said.

It will take a couple weeks for the sculpture to be completed. As for the delicate sensibilities of the people of Riverside Park, come on. This is New York.

"Art is meant to incite and make people think, and make people change their perceptions about life and challenge them," a parkgoer said.
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